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My husband’s cousin and her husband were en route from Pennsylvania. No flowers sat to welcome them on the front hall table.  The kalanchoe upstairs wouldn’t do; its flowers were fading.  The blue hydrangeas I’d cut earlier this summer looked too dry and unwelcoming. And I’d forgotten to buy a white orchid at Whole Foods.

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In the garden the tall chrysanthemums were not yet in bloom, and the roses were in between blooming cycles. Out to the garden I went anyway, even though I’d cut down most of it the previous week. I was disgusted over the drought and phlox bugs, which had zapped the blooms and sapped the color out of the leaves.

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All I found were a few tiny zinnias, black-eyed Susans and feverfew, one decent looking lime echinacea, some wild white ageratum, plenty of annual white periwinkle and a nice stand perennial pink begonias. The stems were all short, so a tiny vase would have to do.

By the time I cut them, the cousin had called to say they were two blocks away. I jammed the diminutive blooms in a vase. I was surprised by their effect: a sweet, country look. But nothing beats a few fresh flowers at summer’s end.

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